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AppKiDo 0.889

Digital Spokes (Andy Lee)
Rating:@@@@

There is one anomaly with the OS X Cocoa development kit that really irks: the way online documentation does not work.

In today's GUI world, physical manuals that are taken off the shelf once in a blue moon are a thing of the past. And trying to memorise all the APIs/methods with their argument lists nets the developer nothing. The fast track to getting up to speed is not in knowing the details, but in knowing the overall picture.

You have to know the basics of how a system works, but after that you have to have a quick-access system for the details.

And here is where the Achilles heel of OS X and Cocoa come in: The online documentation is not available until you've built your program! At which point, many might argue, it's no longer necessary.

Worse still, it's case sensitive and will not give you a list of near matches. Either you guess the API/method correctly, or nothing happens. Not much of a comfort.

Enter Andy Lee and AppKiDo. Weighing 408 KB on disk, this is a complete reference work for the Cocoa API, and it uses what you have on disk to complete its listings. And naturally, the AppKiDo listings are available whether you are building a project or not.

And bless him, but Andy is not case-sensitive. Yes, we should all know how Cocoa constructs variable and method names; but knowing that, and knowing the API has to do the same, it's not too much to ask for compensation if a single letter is wrong, and Andy compensates admirably.

Typing in 'windowshouldclose' automatically brings up 'windowShouldClose' in AppKiDo, where in Project Builder nothing at all would happen, and all you'd have would be dead silence.

But it gets better. As it turns out, you don't even have to type in the complete name of a variable or method - just type the first two letters, and AppKiDo will come up with a list of all possible matches - again, with no regard for case.

Typing in 'windowdid' brings up not only a long list of methods, but also a list of notifications, which strictly speaking do not begin with the search string, but AppKiDo knows they're related anyway.

Text everywhere is excellently hyperlinked to related subjects, so you can browse of an evening when the pressure's off and you just want to learn a bit more.

This is class. This is what Cocoa developers should have had all along.

As for the engineering itself, AppKiDo is tight and seemingly well-written.

If you are a Cocoa developer - get this app.

PostScript

Andy Lee has since come out with a new version of AppKiDo - and he really blew it. Bursting at the seams with featuritis and scaring away sensitive users with a default 'brushed metal' user interface, not to speak of a new-found predilection for strewing totally useless junk files literally all over the place, AppKiDo has now gone too far - much too far.

If you can still get AppKiDo 0.889 you'll be glad you did. And you can hope Andy comes to his senses before the release of 1.0 and redeems what used to be a great app.

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